Goldmark: Outrage over Pussy Riot sentence puts Russia on notice

Members of a female punk band "Pussy Riot" Members of a female punk band "Pussy Riot" (from left-to-right) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, sit inside a glass enclosure during a court hearing in Moscow. (August 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Peter Goldmark Peter Goldmark, former publisher of the International Herald

Peter Goldmark writes a weekly column for Newsday. He is former budget director of New York State and

On a December afternoon in 1955, something snapped in Rosa Parks. She got on the bus in Montgomery, Ala., that took her home from her work as a seamstress. But she refused to move to the back, where she was "supposed" to sit. Parks was black, and the front of the bus was for white people.

In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit peddler in Tunisia, set himself afire to protest a corrupt regime and its brutal police. His suicide triggered the Arab spring that has swept across the Middle East.

Turning points in history often erupt from the actions of strong people who put their lives on the line for a belief. This summer another gutsy blow for freedom was struck, this time by a music group of three young Russian women protesting the dictatorship in their country.

Pussy Riot will be known not for its music but for the willingness of its members to risk everything for freedom. Like Parks, they knew they would be arrested. And like Parks they went ahead anyway.

What the Pussy Riot women did was call for the removal of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, in a prominent Moscow church. For doing so, they were sentenced on Aug. 17 to a penal colony for two years by a politically controlled court.